Adams Family Correspondence, volume 3

John Adams to Abigail Adams, 3 June 1778 JA AA John Adams to Abigail Adams, 3 June 1778 Adams, John Adams, Abigail
John Adams to Abigail Adams
My dearest Friend Passi June 3 17781

On the 13 of Feb. I left you. It is now the 3d. of June, and I have not received a Line, nor heard a Word, directly nor indirectly, concerning you since my departure. This is a Situation of Mind, in which I never was before, and I assure you I feel a great deal of Anxiety at it: yet I do not wonder at it, because I suppose few Vessels have sailed from Boston since ours.

I have shipped for you, the Articles you requested, and the black Cloth for your Father, to whom present my most affectionate and dutiful Respects. Captain Tucker, if he should not be unlucky, will give you an Account of your Things.2

It would be endless to attempt a Description of this Country. It is one great Garden. Nature and Art have conspired to render every 32Thing here delightful. Religion and Government, you will say ought to be excepted.—With all my Heart.—But these are no Afflictions to me, because I have well fixed it in my Mind as a Principle, that every Nation has a Right to that Religion and Government, which it chooses, and as long as any People please themselves in these great Points, I am determined they shall not displease me.

There is so much danger that my Letter may fall into malicious Hands, that I should not choose to be too free in my Observations upon the Customs and Manners of this People. But thus much I may say with Truth and without offence, that there is no People in the World, who take so much Pains to please, nor any whose Endeavours in this Way, have more success. Their Arts, Manners, Taste and Language are more respected in Europe than those of any other Nation. Luxury, dissipation, and Effeminacy, are pretty nearly at the same degree of Excess here, and in every other Part of Europe. The great Cardinal Virtue of Temperance, however, I believe flourishes here more than in any other Part of Europe.

My dear Country men! how shall I perswade you, to avoid the Plague of Europe? Luxury has as many and as bewitching Charms, on your Side of the Ocean as on this—and Luxury, wherever she goes, effaces from human Nature the Image of the Divinity. If I had Power I would forever banish and exclude from America, all Gold, silver, precious stones, Alabaster, Marble, Silk, Velvet and Lace.

Oh the Tyrant! the American Ladies would say! What!—Ay, my dear Girls, these Passions of yours, which are so easily allarmed, and others of my own sex which are exactly like them, have done and will do the Work of Tyrants in all Ages. Tyrants different from me, whose Power has banished, not Gold indeed, but other Things of greater Value, Wisdom, Virtue3 and Liberty. My Son and Servant4 are well. I am, with an Ardour that Words have not Power to express, yours,

John Adams

RC and LbC (Adams Papers.) Only one of a number of small variations between the two extant texts has been recorded below.


With this letter JA resumed his practice, discontinued a year earlier with his letter to AA of 25 May 1777 (vol. 2, above), of drafting his letters to his wife and retaining the drafts in a letterbook. His retained copy of the present letter is the first entry in Lb/JA/7 (Microfilms, Reel No. 95), a folio volume purchased from the stationer Cabaret, “Au Griffon Rue de Bussy”; see JA, Diary and Autobiography , 2:327, 343, and a reproduction of Cabaret's large and elegant trade card in same, facing p. 291. JA kept up this private letterbook, but quite fitfully, until Feb. 1779. Many years later, in 1809, and more intensively in 1813–1814, he turned it over to his amanuenses, who filled up its blank pages with copies of JA's outgoing letters.

33 2.

These “Things” for JA's family had been furnished by John Bondfield, U.S. commercial agent at Bordeaux, and were sent by Capt. Samuel Tucker in the Boston, which sailed a few days later and arrived at Portsmouth, N.H., on 15 October. See JA to Bondfield of the present date (JA, Diary and Autobiography , 4:126); an entry dated 25 May in JA's Personal Receipts and Expenditures (same, 2:329); JA to Tucker, 29 April (MH:Tucker Papers, printed in Sheppard, Tucker , p. 91–92); AA to JA, printed under the assigned date of 21 Oct., below, acknowledging receipt of the present letter.


In LbC the word “Happiness” is added here. Its omission in RC may have been inadvertent.


Joseph Stephens (or Stevens), who served JA in Europe from 1778 to 1783; see JA, Diary and Autobiography , 2:274 and passim.

John Quincy Adams to Abigail Adams, 5 June 1778 JQA AA John Quincy Adams to Abigail Adams, 5 June 1778 Adams, John Quincy Adams, Abigail
John Quincy Adams to Abigail Adams
Paris june 5 1778

it is witth great Pleasure that I now Sit down to write a few Lines to you to inform you of my health & Situation which I like pretty well but I had by much rather be amongst the rugged rocks of my own native town than in the gay city of Paris. yesterday my Pappa received a large number of news papers from america but the 2 armys were then in the Same posture as they were when we came but I hope they have done Something by this time Please to give my duty to my grandpapa Smith & to my grandmamma hall1 & uncle & aunt Cranch & love to my Sister & Brothers I am &c

LbC (Adams Papers); at foot of text: “to my Mamma.” Text is given here in literal style.


Mrs. John Hall, the former Susanna (Boylston) Adams, JA's mother, frequently mentioned in earlier volumes of the Adams Family Correspondence . See Adams Genealogy.

John Quincy Adams to Charles Adams, 6 June 1778 JQA Adams, Charles John Quincy Adams to Charles Adams, 6 June 1778 Adams, John Quincy Adams, Charles
John Quincy Adams to Charles Adams
Paris June ye 6 1778

I often envy you the pleasure you enjoy in being at a place where you with pleasure look around you upon the rugged rocks & homly pastures & what is of more Consequence you can Converse with Mamma Sister & brother these are pleasures that are not exceeded by all the gaiety & riches of europe. your buisiness & mine are upon the Same foundation to qualify ourselves to be useful members of Society & to get a living in the world, & I am Convinced from experience that your opportunities for this are as good as mine by the advice of a most excellent mother & the use of a valuable Library. after all the distresses & dangers I have gone through to obtain them you have 34one advantage over me & that is that you are less exposed to vice & folly, but I hope I shall never be tempted by them we are Sent into this world for Some end. it is our duty to discover by Close study what this end is & when we once discover it to pursue it with unconquerable perseverance

I am &c. John Quincy Adams

LbC (Adams Papers); at foot of text: “to my brother Charles.” Text is given here in literal style.